MANILA -- With the advent of technology and digital innovations, the relevance of public libraries, physical books, and educational materials is being challenged. Majority of Filipinos have turned to online platforms and apps to get their access to various reading materials.
For Quintin Pastrana, founder and managing director of the Library Renewal Partnership (LRP), these advancements actually drive the need to build more community education centers, especially for those residing in rural areas with little to no access to knowledge -- physical or virtual. More than anything, it calls for the local government to both revive and enliven the purpose of libraries in cities and towns big or small.
"Globally, we have seen how libraries have transformed as community centers where they've turned into hubs for community gatherings, alternative classes, entrepreneurial spaces and even venues for disaster relief operations, and we've observed the same trend happening in the Philippines too," Pastrana said.
"Libraries are providing communities with third spaces, which are a universal benefit and vital feature of modern societies, allowing democratic access for citizens regardless of ethnicity, socio-economic background, and religion, to come together in a conducive environment to learn, collaborate, and grow as individuals and as a community," he added.
Building community centers in remote areas
What began as a research paper in Oxford up to its project fruition in his hometown in Kalibo, Aklan, LRP is now a strong coalition of local and international partners building community education centers and libraries in different remote areas in the country.
LRP currently works with a number of government agencies and key partners to build libraries with educational materials for public use. The goal is to share love and knowledge to over two million Filipinos across the country, especially those in the farther areas where access to libraries is limited. It has already established 950 libraries dispersed throughout remote communities such as Sagada, Mountain Province; Kalibo, Aklan; Lubuangan, Kalinga; and Tiwi, Albay.
"For almost 10 years, it continues to be a great accomplishment for us to see our education centers flourish and witness how communities benefited from the educational and informative materials that they now have access to. We are thankful for the continuous support from our partners who stood by our side to fulfill our mission in equipping communities in need of resources to boost literacy and education," Pastrana said.
Going further with Ford
Just recently, LRP launched its 950th partner library as part of its collaboration with Ford Philippines as its automotive partner. Ford has been supporting LRP since 2017, delivering books onboard the Ford Ranger pick-up truck to five far-flung libraries -- two in La Union, one in Ilocos Sur, and two in Ilocos Norte.
"We were able to reach far-flung areas and fill up three libraries in the span of three days, thanks to our partnership with Ford. The Ford Ranger was a true game-changer in this initiative with its great ride, fuel efficiency, superior handling and capabilities, and the spacious bed which allowed us to carry tons of books that we delivered to the libraries," added Pastrana.
"Through this partnership, we have shown that our Ford Ranger pick-up trucks are not just about power and performance, but also about purpose. They are 'Built Ford Tough' and are able to withstand the long drives, changing weather conditions, and rocky terrains to deliver the much needed educational materials to help several beneficiaries and give them the opportunity to learn," said EJ Francisco, AVP, Communications, Ford Philippines.
This year, the LRP, with the support of partners like Ford, aims to reach the 1,000 library-mark and expand its scope to more remote areas in Visayas and Mindanao, with a commitment to help boost literacy one library at a time. (PR)